Manny looked over the various folders in front of him. The folders were the result of a month long surveillance and search for information. Normally, Manny was a man of action. Playing head games was his favorite past time. But this one was different. This time, his targets were a lot more complex and if he was going to be successful, he was going to have to have all the information he could. People may say Manny Ruiz was crazy, but he wasn’t stupid. The one thing he had learned was that you did not go up against men as powerful as Jason Morgan and Lorenzo Alcazar without being prepared.
The only issue Manny was having was with his current partner, Sonny Corinthos. Manny was one to usually work alone, but having Sonny on his side meant he had the perfect scapegoat. Someone who could take the brunt of the blame for Manny’s actions. But Manny was starting to rethink that part of the plan. Sonny was unstable. He refused to listen to Manny when he was told to back off of Alcazar and Morgan.
Manny shook his head. If Sonny continued to be a loose cannon, he was going to have to be taken care of. Manny couldn’t take any risks if he was going to be successful – and Manny hated failure. He had worked too hard and too long to have this all blow up in his face now.
Leaning back in his chair, Manny thought of the conversation he and Sonny had had nearly a month ago about this very topic.
~ Flashback ~
“I told you not to make contact!” Manny fumed as he glared at his partner. “I told you the time was not right! Don’t forget, I can do this without you!” Manny said. “So do not underestimate me.”
“I am the one who brought you into this Ruiz, so I wouldn’t be throwing out threats if I were you!” Sonny growled.
“And I am the one with the resources to get the job done. You’ve have two years Corinthos and all you’ve been able to do was sit on your hands while your enemy and former employee grew more and more powerful. You just sat there while they took everything that was yours, including your wife and children!! You want this done, then shut up and follow directions!”
Manny watched as Sonny began to pace. The man was becoming more and more agitated the longer they spoke. Manny was not in the mood to coddle the mobster – not willing to stroke his ego by telling him he was right – because as far as Manny was concerned, if Sonny kept up this line of action, it was only going to get him killed and Manny was not going to go down with him.
~ End Flashback ~
When the time came, Manny was going to make sure it was Sonny who took the fall – and not him. He was a survivor in this world and Manny Ruiz planned on surviving this and coming out on top.
He was not going to be told what to do, when to do it and how. He was no one’s lackey. Sonny was used to being the one who called the shots – he was not going to be pushed aside. He was the one who had brought Manny Ruiz into the picture. He was the one who was giving Manny the chance to shine. He was not going to allow Manny to take over his plans, his dreams. When the time came, it was going to be Sonny who exacted his revenge on Lorenzo Alcazar. Not Manny. And if Jason was sacrificed in the process – then so be it. Sonny would do what he could to save Jason, to get back all that had been taken from him, but if Jason was resistant, then Sonny would have to do without him.
“Are you sure he doesn’t suspect anything?” Sam asked Skye and Carly as they walked around the edge of the lake, keeping an eye on Morgan and Elaina playing in the shallow end.
“Not a thing,” said Skye with a nod. “I’ve kept him busy with redecorating the bedroom. And with Manny and Sonny on the loose, we’ll have no trouble sneaking Esmeralda in.”
“Good,” said Carly. “And we have Max on our side to make sure she gets here from the airport without notice.” Then she turned to Sam. “And you have to distract Jason.”
“Why me?” asked Sam, turning to Carly. It had been a month since the walking-in-on-each-other incident, but there was no way Carly was going to let her live that one down. And every chance she had, Carly tried to make up scenarios where Jason and Sam would be alone together.
Carly gave Sam a look, but said nothing.
“Fine,” said Sam, knowing she was going to have to do it anyway. “I’ll come up with something.”
“I’m sure you will,” Carly couldn’t resist saying, a glint in her eyes. “And if you need . . . I will be more than happy to take Elaina for the day . . . or night.”
“Enough Carly!” Sam said with a shake of her head.
Just then Morgan and Elaina came running over to the three women.
“Mommy!” Morgan cried.
“Sam!” Elaina cried.
“What’s wrong?” Sam asked, looking at the tears in both of their eyes.
Morgan and Elaina pointed to the other.
“He pinched me!”
“She pinched me!”
Sam and Carly looked at each other. “Okay,” said Sam. “Why did you two pinch each other?” she asked.
“He mean! He take my shell!” Elaina sniffed.
“It was my shell first!” Morgan yelled, stamping his foot.
“Mine!” Elaina yelled at him angrily.
“No! Mine!” Morgan yelled back.
“Enough!” Sam said firmly but gently. “There is no pinching, do you understand?” she said to both children. “Now, I want you to both say you’re sorry. Then I want you to get your things. I think a time out is needed.”
Both kids looked up at Sam. Then at Carly, who nodded in agreement. Then Skye, who also agreed. Seeing they weren’t going to get out of this, Elaina and Morgan apologized and went to clean up. Then they followed Sam, Carly and Skye back to the house.
“Michael, hurry up!” Max called up the stairs. After picking Michael up from school, the boy had informed him that he needed something from the house before going back to the cottage they were staying at on Lorenzo’s property.
“Coming!” Michael called as he found what he was looking for. He grabbed the book he wanted and came barreling down the stairs. “Got it!”
“Good. Let’s go,” said Max as he pulled the door open. He stopped when he saw Sonny standing there.
Michael saw the man standing in the door and his gaze darkened. “What are you doing here?” he asked none too kindly.
Sonny smiled at his son. He was leaner and taller than the last time Sonny had seen him. His hair was still the same vibrant red, and he had begun to lose some of the roundness to his face. “It’s good to see you Michael,” he said.
“You’re not supposed to be here,” said Michael. The man in front of him was no longer the man he knew as his father. The man in front of him was a stranger. And Michael wanted nothing to do with him.
Sonny nodded. “I wanted to see you. And Morgan,” he said. He could already see that Michael had been poisoned against him, probably by Carly and Alcazar. Jason would never turn his son against him. Sonny knew that.
“Yeah, well, we don’t want to see you!” said Michael.
“I am your father Michael!”
Michael shook his head. “No you’re not. Not anymore! You helped that woman to kill Jessica. I know what you did . . . you chose revenge over us!”
Sonny stood there in shock. How could Michael be talking to him like that? Carly had completely lost control of him – just like Sonny knew she would.
“You listen here Michael,” Sonny said angrily, taking a step toward the boy.
“I think that’s enough,” said Max, stepping in front of Michael. “You need to leave Mr. Corinthos.”
“Just get out of here! No one wants you around anymore!” Michael yelled.
Sonny could have fought. He could have made threats. But it wasn’t his son he should be doing that to. It wasn’t Michael’s fault that he had been brainwashed to see him as the enemy. Sonny knew where to lay the blame. And it was time to confront that source. Damn the consequences.
“And did you apologize to Morgan?” Jason asked his daughter as he sat in the rocking chair in her room. Elaina was still on her bed for her time out.
Elaina nodded her head. “I say sorry,” she said in a small voice. Then she looked at her father. Elaina hated getting into trouble. And worst of all, she hated when she made her daddy mad. “Daddy mad?” she asked.
Jason got up and went to sit on the bed. “No, I’m not mad,” he said. “A little sad though. I don’t like to hear about you and Morgan not being nice to each other,” he added.
“He took my shell!” Elaina said hotly, wanting to defend her case.
Jason had to bite back a smile as he saw Jessica’s temper flare up in his daughter. “I understand that. And that wasn’t nice of him either. But that didn’t mean you had to pinch him.”
Elaina pouted a moment. “No go out?” she asked. Elaina had been looking forward to spending the afternoon with just her and her daddy all week, and she didn’t want this to ruin it.
Jason saw the hope on his daughter’s face. “Well . . . as long as you said sorry to Morgan and you know I do not want you doing that again . . . we can still go out,” he said.
Elaina’s eyes lit up and she jumped into her father’s lap, wrapping her arms around his neck. “Wuv you Daddy!”
Jason laughed. “I love you too princess,” he said, hugging her. “Now, go and find your shoes so we can go.”
Skye stopped Lorenzo outside the door to their bedroom. “Okay, you have to be completely honest with me Lorenzo. If you don’t like it, you need to tell me.”
“Skye, I am sure I am going to love it,” said Lorenzo. Skye had worked for the last month on their bedroom – not wanting him to see it so it would be a surprise. She had made him promise not to peak, and although he had been tempted on a couple of occasions, Lorenzo had kept to the promise.
Skye nodded and pushed open the double doors. Then she watched his face for his reaction.
Lorenzo stepped into the room and stopped. Although Skye had kept the original furniture, she had rearranged it around the room. The large, four-poster bed now sat under the bay window and was facing the French doors overlooking the garden and lake. The bed itself was covered in burnt gold silk. The white carpet had been pulled up and in its place was a shiny, hardwood floor with thick throw rugs by the bed and sitting area. And above the fire place was a painting Lorenzo had not seen in a long time – the Villa in Venezuela where he had grown up. The walls themselves glowed a deep cream color – like caramel, and gave off a warm, soothing feel.
Skye bit her lip as she watched him. She couldn’t tell what he was thinking in that moment; wasn’t sure if he liked what she had done.
Lorenzo, amazed at the work Skye had put into the redecoration, turned to her. “It’s beautiful,” he said, his tone tinged with awe and wonder, pulling her into his arms.
“Really? You’re not just saying that?” she asked, looking up into his eyes.
Gently tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, Lorenzo smiled. “No, I’m not just saying it, Skye. I mean it. This is amazing. And it’s ours.”
Skye beamed at Lorenzo’s words. It was theirs and that had been her intention all along. And she had kept that in mind when she chose the color scheme and arrangement of the furniture.
Lorenzo turned back to the painting over the mantle. “Where did you find that?” he asked his voice and eyes softening as he took in the beautiful Villa and surrounding landscape where he had grown up. Childhood memories – both good and bad – came to the surface.
Skye looked up at the painting herself. When she had first seen it, she knew it would be perfect in here and had hoped that Lorenzo felt the same way. And from the look in his eye, she could see that she was right.
“Actually, Diego found it in the attic when I asked him to bring down the mirror I had stored up there,” she said. “I had it touched up and cleaned and then framed.”
Lorenzo looked down at Skye, who was still in his arms. Was it possible for him to love this woman any more than he already did? Lorenzo didn’t think so.
Manny looked at the files in front of him. Manny now had the strengths and weaknesses of the Morgan/Alcazar family spread out in front of him. Head games were what Manny enjoyed best – even more than actually killing someone. Playing with someone’s head had lasting effects – more so than death.
Picking up the first file, a smile spread over Manny’s thin lips. This is where he was going to start. Lorenzo Alcazar. This was the main reason he had joined up with Sonny Corinthos. He had needed a backer – someone to take the fall if things got too hot under the collar. And there was so much Manny could work with when it came to Lorenzo. The man was complicated and had lived a life full of loss and regrets. All Manny had to do was tap into that.
Sitting back in his chair, Manny tapped the file against his knee. The Alcazars had always prided themselves on their business prowess – their ability to make any deal work; to always come out on top. Manny’s smile widened. There was no way he was going to let Alcazar come out on top this time.
“How about some lunch first?” Jason suggested to his daughter as they strolled past the docks, her small hand wrapped around two of his fingers.
“Kelly’s!” Elaina exclaimed, hoping up and down as they walked.
Jason laughed. “Sounds good to me,” he said as he turned to the stairs that would lead to the small diner.
“Daddy?” said Elaina as they reached the top of the stairs and started in the direction of the diner.
Jason looked down at her. “What’s up princess?” he asked.
“Do you like Sam?” Elaina asked, looking up at her father.
Jason stopped and then got down on one knee in front of her. “Of course I like Sam. She’s my friend and she helps me take care of you,” he said.
“I know,” said Elaina. “But do you like Sam like you liked Mommy?”
Jason’s eyes widened a moment. “What do you mean?”
“You said you loved Mommy a lot and you still do. Do you love Sam?”
Jason wasn’t sure how to really answer that. He didn’t want to confuse his daughter . . . but truth be told, Jason was kind of confused himself. What did he feel for Sam?
“I care about Sam a lot.” Jason wasn’t sure if this was going to satisfy his daughter or not.
Elaina thought about it a moment. She wanted her daddy to be happy and not sad because her mommy was gone. “Daddy,” she said. “Can I have brownie?”
Jason smiled, seeing that his daughter’s attention had shifted, and finding that he was glad. Jason wasn’t too comfortable talking to his two-year-old about what his feelings for Sam might or might not be. “Of course you can sweetie,” he said.
As the pair moved on, Manny stepped out of the shadows, a smile on his face. Manny had heard what Jason Morgan didn’t say. And he also found two very strong weaknesses in the man. His little girl and the woman he wasn’t even aware that he loved. This was getting better and better.
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